Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Is Something “Good” Just Because It Has A “Tradition” Behind It?

good vs traditional Whether you’re a Reader, Writer, or Publisher (or, all three), this post should make you think.

Think about how damned hard it is to define something that’s undergoing massive change.

The words “good” and “tradition” have quotes around them because, in my experience, different people have vastly different meanings for those words.

Good can mean anything from “what God says” to “whatever I decide to do”.

Tradition can be “something to rely on” or “an impediment to progress”.

I’ll leave that slippery word “good” for a possible future post

And, I’ll do what I usually do when I’m writing a post and want you to “think afresh”

Here are the major root-meanings for “tradition”: delivery, surrender, a handing down.

“Handing down” is the most “neutral” root meaning to me—yet, what’s handed down can be very good or simply horrid—it can be a transfer of an honorable heritage or a bad legacy.

“Delivery” as a root for tradition is a “defining” meaning—if it ain’t delivered, it ain’t gonna be a tradition.

“Surrender” is the one that gives me pause

If we surrender a way of doing things when we hand down a tradition, does that mean we expect it to be changed or that we’re praying it won’t be changed?

When I type the word “traditional” into the search widget on this blog I get the posts I’m linking to right now—all spotlighting traditional publishing [ feeling a bit spunky today and wanted a touch of self-reference there :-) ].

I can do the same thing for self-publishing

If you’re a reader and not a concerned writer, you might ignore all the posts those last two links pull up.

However, if you’re a reader who doesn’t write, I’d love to hear your opinions of this post on the publishing “war”—readers should care about what’s going on in the effort to supply them with books

For the writers reading this, especially the ones who don’t have time to or merely refuse to click on links in blog posts, I’ll pull excerpts from a book designer and a literary agent to round out this article.

In my previous post, Where’s The Gate? ~ More Thoughts On Publishing…, I quoted Joel Friedlander, the book designer, saying:

“…publishing is a business, and publishers businesspeople. Books that find a home with profit-oriented publishers can be defined this way: books that might sell enough to make the publisher a profit.

“That’s the reality of gatekeeping, no matter how romantic it may sound. Publishers who make no profit are no longer in business. The business of business is profit, pure and simple.”

Rachelle Gardner is a literary agent, one of the traditional “gatekeepers” Joel mentioned. In her recent post, Publishing in the Brave New World, she says:

“Part of the value publishers bring is a sense of history, a sense of tradition and permanence. Many authors still want to be a part of that. It’s about great stories and important thoughts. It’s about legacy. It’s about a dream. People in publishing still see this dream as worth it. They’re willing to swim against the tide because publishing isn’t just a business, it’s a life, it’s a calling, it’s a passion.”

Personally, I have no problem with “traditional” publishers since I have many good reasons to be a self-published author

Can traditional publishing “surrender” to the new tools and methods of our digital age?

Will they “hand down” the best they have from their vast experience without attempting to demonize those who travel a different path?

Is their system of “delivery” of books to readers a guarantee of “quality”?

Can the traditional folks and the people self-publishing work together to create a hybrid method of placing an author’s work into the reader’s hands (whether those hands hold paper and ink or technology)?

What are your thoughts and feelings??
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2 responses to “Is Something “Good” Just Because It Has A “Tradition” Behind It?

  1. Angela Yuriko Smith November 2, 2011 at 4:35 am

    You give a lot to think about and I always enjoy your fresh insights. I wish I could come in and hang out on the Island still, but our new internet won’t let Sl connect… yet. I’m working on it…! I’m glad I can still get to your blog.


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